When you bring better technology to your marketing campaign and execute well, you get better results. That’s the heart of programmatic marketing.
But despite the buzz, misconceptions about programmatic marketing continue to fly. Let's take a look at three of the big ones:
1. Programmatic Marketing Is Synonymous With Programmatic Display Buys
If you still think “programmatic marketing” means buying display ads to take advantage of cheap inventory, it’s time for a refresher. Programmatic now encompasses much more than display, or ad buying itself, for that matter. Programmatic is about using data to target consumers with the most personalized and relevant messages possible. Sometimes that means serving display ads to people who have already visited your site (site retargeting) or searched specific terms (search retargeting). But you can now also use data to target email messages, social updates, and video prerolls. And publishers of all kinds can use programmatic techniques to make their Web and mobile pages change dynamically according to the visitor. Indeed, if programmatic marketing is synonymous with anything at this point, then it’s with smarter, more efficient marketing.
2. Programmatic Marketing Is A Highly Complex Undertaking
This is partially true. Programmatic marketing requires data—lots and lots of data. Even if you have a mountain of your own first-party data, you have to know how to put it to use. And if you’re working with a vendor, you want one that not only brings a lot of data to the table, but also has the patience to understand your company’s particular marketing needs. Companies that have invested in data-management tools (such as DMPs) will generally be in a stronger position to work with a large volume of data.
But, at the end of the day, programmatic marketing can be as complex or as simple as a marketer's needs. Indeed, just because you don’t have a ton of your own data or a DMP doesn't mean you have to give up on programmatic. B2B companies involved in marketing automation are certainly a part of the programmatic revolution—though right now they're mostly using only advanced email marketing. And if you’re running even a very basic site retargeting campaign, then you’re already taking your first steps into the programmatic world. The next step is to go further into that world with an advanced programmatic site retargeting (PSR) campaign that relies on inbound search data, previous browsing data, and on-site behavioral data to make your targeting even more precise.
3. Programmatic Marketing Is A Black Box
This one is especially unfortunate because the belief that programmatic is a black box is slowing its widespread adoption. It's true that in the early days much confusion surrounded programmatic. And some vendors certainly contributed to that confusion by failing to disclose everything. But times have changed. Programmatic vendors today increasingly understand the importance of transparency, and it’s changing the way they collect, process, and make data and insights available to their clients (for all sorts of campaigns). A good vendor will make sure a client understands exactly how first- and third-party data are collected, and how that data is actually being used.
A good vendor will also, of course, be entirely transparent with respect to pricing. One nice outcome of the recent slate of marketing-tech IPOs is they’ve helped the rest of the business world understand exactly how programmatic vendors earn their money.
It’s also worth remembering that older issues with programmatic campaigns, such as viewability and advertising fraud, are far less and less common—thanks, in larger part, to new and improved metrics such as view-through attribution, which tracks how many users visit an advertiser's site after being exposed to an ad.
View-through attribution is, in many ways, what programmatic always needed: a metric that is at once verifiable, useful, and based on hard numbers. That's important because, alas, another big misconception is that click-throughs can tell us anything meaningful about the success of a campaign.